Louis claims victory but the title belongs to Steele
F3 Cup’s final race of the year was an exciting one, ultimately resulting in a well-earned win for Louis Hamilton-Smith, the championship title for Aaron Steele and the Teams’ title for Chris Dittmann Racing.
F3 Cup's final race of the year was an exciting one, ultimately resulting in a well-earned win for Louis Hamilton-Smith, the championship title for Aaron Steele and the Teams' title for Chris Dittmann Racing.
Carlin Racing's Zach Claman de Melo made a fantastic start this time around after troubles in the earlier races, and stormed off towards Copse with the pack chasing hard. Aaron Steele took up second spot, with Louis Hamilton-Smith in third but already under pressure from Stuart Wiltshire.
Hywel Lloyd was forced to start from the back of the grid after his DNF in race two, but that was no mean feat in itself; his CF Racing team worked flat-out to get the car ready, trying to avoid having to start from the pit lane. Clutch problems solved, Lloyd wasted no time working his way back up the grid and was up to fourth place within a few laps.
Jacopo Sebastiani, Daniel Tapinos and Tony Bishop had a 'coming together' a few laps later which sadly resulted in Bishop finding himself stranded in the gravel. Almost simultaneously Steele made a small error which was enough to let Hamilton-Smith past, and brought Stuart Wiltshire into his mirrors. The race was quickly neutralised however as the Safety Car was deployed, while recovery of Bishop's stricken car took place. The field quickly closed up on the back of Claman de Melo, even though the Safety Car was only out for one lap.
Louis was keen to stay with Zach at the restart, but the Canadian quickly showed the pace he has displayed in F3 Cup this year. Similarly Stuart Wiltshire tried to make a move on Steele within a few corners of the restart but couldn't quite make it stick. Lloyd also appeared on the scene at this point, and as the three battled for third place, Hamilton-Smith found himself with some breathing room and was able to build a gap.
Lloyd managed to pass Wiltshire to take fourth, as the gaps between the second- and fifth-place runners began to even out. Within a lap or two Lloyd was on the rear wing of Steele's car though, and clearly keen to challenge for third. At the same time Wiltshire found himself under pressure from Sebastiani but was able to hold the Omicron driver off until the end of the race. Lloyd ultimately passed Steele, but had to settle for second in class as time was running out to catch Hamilton-Smith.
Post-race celebrations included the awarding of the IWI Watches Fastest Lap Award to Zach Claman de Melo, and the Sunoco Driver of the Weekend Award to Louis Hamilton-Smith after strong performances throughout, resulting in that win in the final race. Of course, championship honours were celebrated by Aaron Steele, whose consistent performances over the year earned him a well deserved title. He adds this to the series prize which he won in his last F3 Cup campaign back in 2011. Team honours went the way of Chris Dittmann Racing, their first championship title, after consistent results for drivers Stuart Wiltshire, Tony Bishop, Kieran Vernon and Malcolm Scott. Chris Dittmann adds the award to his own 2012 driver's title - the first time in F3 Cup history that has been achieved.
The race proved a fitting end to the year for F3 Cup, a season which saw steadily increasing grid sizes and typically exciting Formula 3 racing. The 2016 season is already in the planning stages and further details will be released in the coming weeks and months.
The F3 Cup organisers would like to extend their sincere thanks to all who have supported the championship this year, particularly suppliers Pirelli and Sunoco and Championship Coordinator Simon Davey, and look forward to seeing everyone again for the 2016 season!
F3 Cup - Silverstone GP, 12/13 September - Race Three results
- Zach Claman de Melo (Inv) - Dallara F308 - 10 laps
- Louis Hamilton-Smith (Cup) - Dallara F306 +11.033
- Hywel Lloyd (Cup) - Dallara F311 +11.442
- Aaron Steele (Cup) - Dallara F307 +15.841
- Stuart Wiltshire (Cup) - Dallara F308 +16.618
- Jacopo Sebastiani (Cup) - Dallara F311 +24.353
- Daniel Tapinos (Cup) - Dallara F311 +41.762
- Malcolm Scott (Cup) - Dallara F307 +47.810
- Adrian Holey (Trophy) - Dallara F300 +47.980
- Geoffrey Hoodless (Inv) - Ralt RT1 +1 lap
DNF: Matt Payne, Tony Bishop
FULL RESULTS FROM THE WEEKEND ARE AVAILABLE HERE